Enter the mess. Remnants of toys scattered everywhere. A sticky, crummy kitchen floor- evidence of children rummaging through the fridge and snack cupboard, food-caked dishes left piled in the sink, and a huge basket of clothes awaiting to be folded and returned to their proper drawers. This is not in any way how you would typically find my house on any other given day. When my husband crossed the threshold of our humble abode after a long and grueling day of work and football practice, he must have initially thought a burglary occurred. He was not accustomed to witnessing our home in such a state.
Upon finding me amidst the debris of our epic play day, he had a sigh of relief that we were indeed safe and sound, but then puzzlingly asked “what…. did you guys do today?” His tone wasn’t angry or harsh, just confused. He wondered what happened to his obsessive compulsive wife who thrives in organizing the sock drawer and alphabetizing her spice cupboard. Through a deep exhale, my answer was simply relayed: “it was just one of those days.” But what appeared to be a day of mommy defeat was actually a day of personal revelation. Even while sinking in a flood of game pieces and Barbie dolls, all I could see was a perfectly constructed, beautiful day. A day I let go of control without feeling out of control. And although I wouldn’t wear clutter as a badge of honor, I wasn’t overwhelmed or ashamed of the mess. It was a day I chose to let go of my to-do list, chores and spotless home in order to devote more time for dress up, candy land and coloring.
On most days, there is a balance between playing with the kids and managing the homestead. Balance sometimes seems like this unattainable goal where the apparent sensible solution is to consider cloning myself. I didn’t want my children to view their daily time with me as another check mark on my to do list. Of course, this is not a free pass to always push the housework to the back burner- living in a pig sty is not my idea of balance either!
As I scoped my house of the necessary tasks that needed my attention, I realized that my laundry basket would still be there in need of folding later. My dishes will not grow up and move away if I don’t have them done right after dinner. And since my counter tops lack a soul, no amount of Mr.Clean will save them. I had to admit that I was engrossed in the busy work of my home. But every day with my kids is another opportunity to not only invest in their lives, but in eternity. As I heard my children’s sweet voices call “Mommy, Mommy… come play with us.” I recalled another woman who was distracted with her own to-do list and was completely missing out on the divine appointment that was right under her roof.
Martha was the perfect hostess- probably never had dirty jars in the sink, always had freshly baked leavan bread, and perfumed her house with sweet smelling oils. She graciously opened her home for Jesus and His followers. As Jesus taught, Martha was working hard with the preparations to accommodate her noble guest of honor. Enter the mess. As Martha was frantically distracted with all the tasks on her to-do list, she wondered why her sister, Mary, was not present and accounted for. But Mary was in fact present.
Mary was sitting at the Lord’s feet as He taught. Martha, feeling frustrated, came to Jesus and asked “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10: 40) Jesus replied “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed- or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41,42) Notice Jesus said Martha’s name twice. Picking up on her hostility towards her sister, I believe Jesus said her name the first time in order to calm her down. He said her name a second time to ensure that she was listening to what He was about to explain.
I can relate to Martha- wanting to keep my house presentable, maintaining a structured routine, and don’t even ask my family what I look like before hosting an event. But at the end of the day, I am often left weighing the pros and cons of my decisions and ask myself: have I chosen what is better? I concluded that while I can’t store a picturesque home in heaven, I can invest in eternity by ministering to my family. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle throughout the day- I could hear the Holy Spirit’s gentle whisper “Jennifer, Jennifer,” shifting my focus on what is better. Keeping my eyes on the most important tasks as a homemaker: seeking God and ministering to my family.
I believe Martha was not going about her duties with a prideful heart. I honestly believe she had a heart of servitude. And since Jesus weighs the heart, I believe He was not reprimanding Martha, but reminding her of where our treasure is really found- in Him. Sometimes the things that distract us are not necessarily “bad” things. But if too many distractions are keeping us from the most important tasks, we are choosing to focus on the temporal and missing the eternal- it is not argument of which is better. Let’s face it- our days are busy and hectic, but we cannot allow ourselves to become so distracted that we miss the divine opportunities right under our roof! God showed me on that day to be more concerned about the work He wanted me to accomplish, rather than my own to-do list. The next time my children eagerly cry “Mommy, mommy…” I will consider it a reminder from heaven to choose what is better- to look beyond the mess and focus on the true purpose of a homemaker.
The Humble Homemaker